Cafeteria cuisine comes home

Voorheesville school chef offering dinners to go as a ‘fun’ way to boost revenue

— Picking an affordable, easy dinner has become an elementary decision for the Voorheesville school community.

Two weeks ago, Voorheesville Central School District opened its doors and kitchen to the community through a new “Meals to go” dinner program, which is aimed at keeping its school lunch program in the black.

Tim Mulligan, chef and district cook manager, is cooking up some of his favorite meals, including chicken Marsala as the debut dish, for anyone to purchase and take home. Meals are generally scheduled to be sold every other Wednesday from the high school cafeteria, which is now known as the Blackbird Café. The second offering will be on Oct. 2 and on Oct. 16, a chicken or shrimp penne is on the menu.

“It is something we have been thinking about for a couple of years,” Mulligan said. “It is just an extra way of putting some income into the school lunch fund.”

Mulligan has a background outside of the district in serving large-scale meals as a banquet chef at the Empire State Plaza for 12 years. He also previously operated his own restaurants.

While serving dinner from a school cafeteria is unique, for Mulligan it was a practical solution to help keep the district’s lunch program afloat.

“I don’t know what other school districts are going to try to do … but this is just me cooking the meals and it is fun cooking,” he said. “Any money we make is better than not making money.”

Voorheesville dropped new federal lunch guidelines after less than six months following the program. Other local districts have followed suit – Bethlehem dropped the guidelines at its high school and Niskayuna dropped from the federal program on the heels of Voorheesville.

Mulligan petitioned the Board of Education to drop the federal program, along with the extra funding tat comes with it, after seeing lunch lines shortening and food waste piling up.

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